After a clever intro, Arilyn begins their hard-edged prog assault with “Take Off.” Ringing guitar and then keyboard showing a no-holds barred attitude in their attack. Upon joining the others, bass and drums are supplying a moving drive for those lead instruments to layer on top. It’s obvious that this German band has good control over their instruments and an interesting style. A great hooky chorus really is just the icing on the cake for this memorable song.
I would not call this prog-metal, although they get close on aggressive cuts like “Carpe Diem” and the title song “Alter Ego,” whereupon Arilyn introduce another great chorus. Some other songs recall an almost 80’s New Wave Brit Pop vibe like “Controlling,” a song that would not sound out of place on an early Spandau Ballet record. If you can imagine IQ or Twelfth Night with the aggressive pop sensibilities of Spandau, Roxy Music or (never thought I’d use these guys in a prog review) Soft Cell, that’s what much of Arilyn’s music sounds like to me.
Jürgen Moßgraber’s keyboards are the featured instrument certainly. His efforts are quite strong, especially on songs like “A Secret Wish” where the spinning keyboard had me thinking about Tangerine Dream or Jarre’s Equinoxe. The memorable ballad “Wake Me Up” and “Wish That I Was Special” both allow the band to slow down and breath, showcasing Moßgraber’s more delicate abilities on the piano. Many of the sound patch choices made by Jurgen Kaletta and his guitar make that instrument prominent to my ears, especially the reverb drenched sound he uses for some lead lines. A bit Big Country or U2-like. I think the team of Kulba and Doll really bring much to this band however, so I don’t think that their contributions can be minimized.
Alter Ego is not without a few faults. The mostly instrumental “When Worlds Collide” for instance, and an occasional weak vocal performance (most notably on “A Secret Wish” and “Wish That I Was Special.”) The CD is strong overall though, the good very much overweighing the bad. Especially “Take Off,” “Wake Me Up,” and the final cut “Again” where all the influences previously stated dovetail neatly into my favorite song on the disc. This CD was a good listen. Well worth the purchase.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on April 15th, 2008